This is meant to give you a basic idea of the intention / requirements. A detailed discussion is presented in Clause_Interp_and_Upgrading.doc.
5.5 Responsibility, Authority and Communication
5.5.1 Responsibility and Authority
Top management shall ensure that responsibilities and authorities are defined and communicated within the company.
Responsibilities and authorities are typically defined within the company’s organizational chart(s) as well as within procedures themselves. Some companies, in fact, have no organizational chart but rather rely on procedures to fulfill this requirement. This is typically less of an actual issue than being ready to state this and to provide examples. Company organizational charts do change frequently in many companies, however, which in and of its self can become an issue. In fact, this should be a consideration when writing procedures. If a function name is changed, how will this affect your procedures which reference that functionary.
Thoughts About ‘Top Management’
The problem lies in assigning equal titles and definitions to every company in the world, which cannot be done. In some companies, a "Managing Director" may be a second tier position; in others, "top management" for the facility undergoing ISO registration may be the Plant Manager, as in the case of a large corporation with multiple sites with various certifications, where the CEO might be so far removed (logically and physically) from that site he plays no role. If my company is a small 12-person software development wing of Microsoft located in Tennessee, is Bill Gates "top management"? Of course not. (Microsoft jokes to follow....)
One of my clients has empowered divisional VP's as "top management" even though the President/CEO is headquartered out of the same site; however the practical reality is that the President's role in this company requires constant international travel and macro management, so it's not practical to have him overseeing the quality system on a regular basis. Quality managers report, during management review, to the VP's, who make all the usual "top management" decisions. A report is sent annually to the President, but no action on his part is required.
In other companies I've had certified, I run into the traditional problem where the Quality Manager/ISO Rep answers to the Production Manager. Sometimes I win that fight, and they change the reporting structure; other times I don't (like when the PM is the president's brother or cousin or something!) In those cases we devise a reporting system specific to issues related to the "quality system" where the ISO Rep has direct reporting access to the President on those issues only. It's not particularly elegant, but it meets the requirements and the culture of the companies in question.
Then there are issues with functional reporting and financial reporting, where a company built on the financial pooling of multiple members creates strange organizational relationships: the maintenance manager, for example, may also be a full VP, or higher, because he owns 1/3 of the company! He may not be responsible for making daily quality decisions, but when it comes to certain cost factors, you can bet he's involved all of a sudden.
Early on in any implementation you need to identify (1) who is your customer and (2) who is your top management. Defining, and being able to defend that definition, sets the guidelines for implementing 5.5.2 in any company.
5.5.2 Management Representative
Top management shall appoint a member of management who, irrespective of other responsibilities, shall have responsibility and authority that includes
a) Ensuring that processes needed for the quality management system are established, implemented and maintained,
b) Reporting to top management on the performance of the quality management system and any need for improvement, and
This is typically accomplished through the Management Review meeting, as a minimum.
c) Ensuring the promotion of awareness of customer requirements throughout the company.
NOTE The responsibility of a management representative can include liaison with external parties on matters relating to the quality management system.
You must have something official (such as a memo or letter or e-mail) which ‘officially’ designates someone as management representative. There have been discussions in the past with respect to the 1994 version on what level of management this person has (had) to be from. The 1994 revision specifically stated “…with executive responsibility…” As you can see, this has been relaxed in the year 2000 version.
5.5.3 Internal Communication
Top management shall ensure that appropriate communication processes are established within the company and that communication takes place regarding the effectiveness of the quality management system.
Communications channels are represented in procedures. Management reviews, for example, are communication conduits. Staff meetings are conduits. Shift meetings are conduits. Forms, as they flow through a system, are conduits. E-mails are another example. This is not just about talking to each other.
This should be only an issue of being ready to discuss the issue and to be ready with specific examples. Ask yourself: “How do we communicate?”
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